Spring 2011 Commencement Speaker Announced
John Hillkirk, the Editor at USA TODAY, has been a writer and editor at USA TODAY since the newspaper was founded in 1982. Before being named to his current position in April 2009, John was executive editor for five years and managing editor of USA TODAY's Money section for nine years.
During his tenure as Editor and Executive Editor, USA TODAY has won multiple national journalism awards including the George Polk Award, the $75,000 Grantham Prize for Environmental Reporting; the Cabot Medal and the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award. Under Hillkirk's leadership, USA TODAY developed the Number 1 media app for the Apple iPad, with more than 1.5 million downloads, and recently won the Mobi Award for the best mobile app for editorial content. Over the past year, USATODAY.com's audience has grown nearly 20% and the website experienced the largest dot.com readership gains of the three national newspapers (USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times) according to MRI's Spring 2010 analysis. USA TODAY remains the nation's No. 1 newspaper with 1.8 million copies sold daily.When Hillkirk was running the Money section, he was named "Executive Editor" of The Journal of Financial Reporting's "Blue-Chip Newsroom," an all-star team of the nation's best business journalists selected from ballots mailed to 150 business editors, writers, TV anchors, reporters and producers. "Mr. Hillkirk occupies the top spot (in) recognition of his splendid work in elevating USA TODAY's 'Money' pages into a place among, or at least near, the nation's elite," wrote Bruce Goldberg, TJFR's managing editor in announcing the Blue-Chip team.
In 2009 and 2010, Hillkirk judged the Pulitzer Prizes over two days at Columbia University. Hillkirk has also served as a final judge of the Gerald Loeb Award, administered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, since 2002 and has judged the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual prizes as well.
Over the past two decades, Hillkirk has co-authored three books. "Xerox: American Samurai" was published in 1986 and was chosen as one of Business Week's 10 best books of the year. "Grit, Guts and Genius: True tales of Megasuccess," was published in 1990. Both books were co-authored by Gary Jacobson of the Dallas Morning News. In 1991, Hillkirk co-authored a management book with former Ford CEO Donald E. Petersen entitled "A Better Idea: Redefining the Way Americans Work."
While at USA TODAY, Hillkirk led interdepartmental teams that won the Gannett Corporation's IDEAS contest (for the Market Trends page in 2003; the Internet Stock Index in 2000 and Ad Track in 2005) and the USA TODAY Luminary Award in 2003 (for the Money/Advertising improvement team); 2002 (Market Trends) and 1995 (for Ad Track).
Prior to joining the nation’s newspaper, Hillkirk was a technology reporter at the Times-Union in Rochester, NY, and a business reporter at the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum, Pa. He graduated from Allegheny College in 1978 and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree when he presented the college's commencement address in the spring of 2010.